What are the three different types of EDLA smart boards available in 2024?
  • BenQ
  • 2023-12-21

At FETC in 2024, the newest EDLA smart boards will be available for teachers and administrators that incorporate popular Google apps such as Chrome, Sheets, Docs, and Slides. This is the first time since the original Google Jamboard where administrators and teachers can manage and use these apps directly on a smart board without adding extra hardware such as a Chromebox.  There are three distinct types of EDLA smart boards that will be available in 2024. 

  • Generic EDLA smart boards
  • Proprietary EDLA smart boards
  • Multi-User EDLA smart boards

The three distinct types of EDLA smart boards are quite different in how they are administered and managed by schools and used by teachers. We will take a closer look at each type of board and help you understand which one is best for your school.

#1 - Generic EDLA smart boards – turning a smart board into a large Android phone or tablet.

A smart board that has a license for Google Mobile Services can access all the Google ecosystem, just like an Android phone or tablet. Like a cell phone, the board is typically set up for an individual teacher, who can access the Google Play store and load whatever apps they want. This makes it easy for a teacher to personalize the board to have easy access to all their tools needed – but does have some drawbacks.

Just like a cell phone, an individually personalized board can be hard to share with others. For example, team teaching has been used in schools since the 1960’s and is becoming a popular way to address teacher shortages and improve enrollment.  Since multiple teachers need to share access to the board, it can make it hard to switch from one teacher to another with a highly personalized board.

In addition, most IT administrators have taken on the responsibility for loading apps on teacher smartboards. This removes the risk of unlicensed software being found on a smart board, as well as having an inappropriate app loaded on the board either intentionally or inadvertently. According to a national survey of IT Directors, only about 20% of school districts in the United States allow teachers to load apps on their own board. 

#2 Proprietary EDLA smart boards – more flexibility but potentially high switching costs

Some smart board companies have developed a proprietary approach to EDLA smart boards that enable students and teachers to log into a board, but use proprietary software and cloud services that can make it difficult for schools to switch from one smart board brand to another.

While this solves the problem of the generic EDLA board that can be difficult to share, these smart boards require teachers and students to set up individual cloud accounts on the companies’ server and agree to a user agreement and privacy statement. So now the smart board company has control over all the smart board teacher and student identity and activity data that may be shared with third parties.

The biggest concern with this type of approach is that it can “lock-in” a school to a single provider of hardware or software. Having the teacher and student data controlled by the smart board company can create a lot of difficulty if a school administration decides to switch brands or change software in the future. It can also provide financial incentives for a smart board company to begin charging additional subscription fees for access. Just like when Becta demanded that interactive whiteboard companies use IWB file formats, many schools are cautious about the risk of corruption when one technology or brand has control over critical teaching infrastructure.

#3 - Multi-User EDLA smart boards – maximum flexibility using school IT infrastructure.

The third type of EDLA smart board is one that is integrated directly into the school’s identity infrastructure to allow teachers and students to personalize and share an EDLA smart board. Tt uses the school’s own identity management system such as Active Directory / ENTRA or Google Workspace to maintain and manage the profiles on the board. This provides maximum flexibility and enables the school to keep their teacher and student data on their own servers.

The other advantage of this approach is that schools can integrate other services such as Safari-Montage and ClassLink on the boards, so that teachers don’t have to waste valuable teaching time logging in an out when they want to use a specific tool or content.  IT managers can control all of this with a few clicks of the mouse to change or adapt the display for a new teacher or a substitute. This approach enables schools to have complete control over their identity data, as well as makes it easy for schools to change curriculum software or hardware as needed.

BenQ Board RP04 – Top Choice for EDLA Multi-User Smart Board

BenQ’s new RP04 is the most advanced EDLA smart board for 2024 that enables schools to integrate directly into their enterprise identity management systems, utilize centralized app management tools to install and monitor applications for teachers, and has advanced sensors that can keep track of classroom environments such as temperature, humidity, and air quality to ensure a safe classroom environment that can be centrally monitored.

If you want to learn more about how the distinct types of EDLA smart boards will work in your schools, just fill out the form below.